“ In our age there is no such thing as ‘ keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.” ———-George Orwell
What the distinguished writer has said in the quoted lines is reflected in the goddamn politicking the present dispensation headed by Mahbooba Mufti signifies. Day in and day out she is pleading that ‘ at least’ education should be depoliticized and students’ career not spoiled, for the loss is irretrievable. The state chief minister seems concerned and in ‘pain’ of schools and other educational institutions closed for the ‘ past more than three months’. And of these life-taking, life-maiming and eyes-perforating three months, two and half months were devoured by curfews, nocturnal raids, beatings of inmates, massive arrests, damaging of property and fulsome terror unleashed.
Even if the resistance leadership had exempted the educational institutions from the protest schedule, the last 15 or 20 days school opening would have hardly helped to retrieve the losses suffered in the education sector ( The students are let off 15 days, even more, before exam schedule from the schools). Government cannot apportion its part of blame on the pro-freedom camp. In the ‘Dead Eyes’ Epidemic’, every student’s, and his parent’s as well, first priority would be to ensure his (student’s) safety, in particular of the eyes, from the hectoring forces personnel let loose to enforce submission. Remember of the over 15 thousand arrested people, a great majority is that of students. It was bizarre on part of education minister to come up with the idea of converting prisons and police camps into exam centers. Prison is not a home, or a boarding school or a hostel where students get conducive atmosphere for exam preparation. Leave alone these arrested students–already suffering the worst physical and mental torture- their remaining thousand class mates, though at home, can not slice an oasis of peace out from the vale turned into a concentration camp. This Intifada provoked state authorities to break the previous records of vengeance and brutalities. And in this nerve-breaking situation you are adamant in taking Class 10th and 12th exams in this month. Have the students graze on the lawns of the exam centers like sheep or write exams they are ill equipped for. Had the government and education minister avoided from using students as instruments of political normalcy, it would have not complicated the simple, declared exams in March. So that students would have got some relief from the physical and mental agony and concentrated on their studies. But obviously they had other motives to pursue.
With students vehemently protesting against holding exams in November and the move drawing a flak across political and ideological spectrum, the authorities have, in a clever sleight of hand, bifurcated the exams in two awkward separate sessions. It is no concession to students. Again they have resorted to dirty politics. They are punch drunk to use students as strategic weapon to gain political mileage and claim normalcy has restored. Revisiting its earlier decision, the government has declared that now the students will be allowed to opt for March 2017 exam as well but with full syllabus, whereas the students opting November exam will enjoy 50 percent relaxation in syllabus. Mark the intent which is politically motivated and cannot be masked. It is simply throwing a bribe to students to appear in November exams. But the Don Quixotes in the education ministry, Directorate and Board have gone extra mile in their servitude to their masters. They just sank back into the stupor after they fermented the brew without considering the adverse impact of the decision. Bribing the students by 50 percent reduction in the syllabus will adversely affect the standards of education and erode credibility of the students. They will not be in a position to grasp the contents of the remaining 50 percent syllabus, affecting badly their competitive potential. That implies you are making them disabled by half, inflicting blindness. In soft ware, of course. ‘ Jai Ho’! How can the deficiency at lower classes be redressed in the upper classes? Isn’t this a sheer discrimination, allowing some to prepare for full syllabus, others to just 50 percent?
Now a word or two about the results. Students appearing in November will have their results announced nearly three months before those students appearing for March exam. Both categories of students, in one way or the other, have to suffer. In former case, they will be hamstrung in not having covered 100 percent syllabus, essential requirement for competitive exams within state or outside. In the latter case, the late results will deprive them from appearing in a competitive exam. That in other words means they have been punished for their hard work and opting to full syllabus exam. The dilemma is not over. If the results come in two different times, the candidate appeared in March will be deprived of schooling by two or three months. But if the results are declared in one go, then there is no rationale in conducting exams at two different times. Except to dent holes in the uprising.
The best option for government is to keep education and conduct of exams out of politics and not behave like a schizophrenic. It should immediately release all students jailed or booked under PSA. So that they can recover from jail trauma. Enforcing exams on them is rubbing salt in their wounds. The students need time to get physically and mentally prepared for the exams, not days but months. Let government conduct exams only in March, so that students are physically and mentally prepared to write exam satisfactorily and not get hamstrung with 50 percent deficiency.
The lure of 50 percent reduction in syllabus is a bait to trap the students and use them for their sinister designs, otherwise its terrible consequences are too obvious to explain.